Opinion: Breaking down Thailand’s new hand-sign protest divide

Pro-monarchy demonstrators introduced a new political hand sign last Thursday at their demonstration against the pro-democracy, student-led, anti-government rallies.

Before anyone asks, the reason why I called them anti-government protesters is because most of them are asking for Prayut’s government to step down, not to abolish the monarchy. 

Battle of the hand signs

 

The new pro-monarchy hand sign, which utilises the thumb, index, and middle finger, symbolises nation, religion and the king — the same as the meaning of the colours on the national flag.

The anti-government protesters utilise the index, middle and ring fingers to form the three salute which they drew from the French Revolution’s liberté, égalité, fraternité.

There was also some inspiration drawn from Katniss Everdeen’s hand gesture in the the Hunger Games trilogy. Even some of the student protesters who I have spoken to believe it is so.

It used to be about attire

Red-shirt supporters of deposed Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra hold placards as they take part in an anti-government protest in Bangkok on March 20, 2010. Thousands of red-clad Thai protesters began to snake across Bangkok in a festive travelling rally aimed at winning over the city’s residents to their flagging anti-government campaign. AFP PHOTO/PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL (Photo by PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL / AFP)

All these hand signs almost makes one nostalgic for the days where one can differentiate protesters by the colour of their outfits.

Remember the halcyon days of the Yellow Shirts (People’s Alliance for Democracy) and the Red Shirts (the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship)?

There was no need to try and figure out which hand sign they were using then. Things were easier, politics were clearer, unless you were colourblind.

Hand signs are okay, I guess

Still, I guess hand signs are much better than the one thing we all can’t stand.

Those goddamned PDRC whistles.

Thai anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban gestures as he arrives to address supporters at their main protest site near Government House in Bangkok on May 20, 2014. Thailand’s opposition demonstrators vowed to keep up their campaign to topple the government, despite the imposition of martial law by the military to quell political violence. AFP PHOTO/ Manan VATSYAYANA. (Photo by MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP)
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