Updated: 06/12/2014 04:13 | By Agence France-Presse

Thai screening of Orwell's 1984 axed after coup

A screening of "Nineteen Eighty-Four", the film version of George Orwell's anti-authoritarian novel, has been cancelled in Thailand after police warned it breached a ban on political gatherings, an organiser said Wednesday.


Thai screening of Orwell's 1984 axed after coup

A banner depicting Thai army chief General Prayut Chan-O-Cha and a reference to George Orwell's famous dystopian novel "1984" is displayed during a gathering at a shopping mall in downtown Bangkok on June 1, 2014 - by Christophe Archambault

The book has become one of the unofficial symbols of resistance against military rule by the generals who seized power from a civilian government on May 22.

The Punya Movieclub in the northern city of Chiang Mai was scheduled to screen the film on Saturday but decided to cancel the showing after local police said it would be illegal, according to one of the organisers who did not want to be named.

"We just wanted to show the content of the film because many people are talking about it right now... We show all types of movies. We didn't want to start a political movement," he said.

"When we found out the police had a problem with our event we decided to cancel, because we are afraid the people who come to watch will face problems."

Political assemblies of more than five people were banned under martial law declared by army chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha.

Opponents of the military takeover have staged small flashmob rallies and other increasingly creative methods of protest, with the majority held in the capital Bangkok.

Some people have taken to the streets for public readings of Orwell's novel and last week protesters unfurled a giant poster of Prayut's face with the words "Thailand 1984" emblazoned below.

The book's depiction of a dystopian state where authorities exert absolute control over the lives of citizens has been compared to post-coup Thailand by opponents of the new regime.

A three-finger salute from "The Hunger Games" films has become another symbol of resistance against the junta, which has suspended democracy and curtailed freedom of expression in the kingdom.

Thai police arrested seven anti-coup protesters after a flashmob rally outside a Bangkok shopping centre on Sunday, when thousands of security forces were deployed in the city to enforce the ban on political gatherings.

Prayut has said he was forced to seize power to restore order after nearly seven months of anti-government protests that saw 28 people killed and hundreds of others wounded.

Critics accuse the junta of using the violence as a pretext for a power grab by a military-backed royalist establishment seeking to curb the political dominance of fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra and his allies.

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