BANGKOK: In junta-ruled Thailand, the simple act of reading in public has become an act of resistance.

Saturday in Bangkok, a week and a half after the army seized power in a coup, about a dozen people gathered in the middle of a busy, elevated walkway connecting several of the capital’s most luxurious shopping malls.

As pedestrians trundled past, the protesters sat down, pulled out book titles such as George Orwell’s 1984, a dystopian novel about life in a totalitarian surveillance state — and began to read.

In a country where the army has vowed to crack down on anti-coup protesters demanding elections and a return to civilian rule, the small protest was a major act of defiance.

Other titles chosen for the “read-in” included Unarmed Insurrection, The Politics of Despotic Paternalism and The Power of Non-Violent Means.