On Wednesday, at 5pm at Tha Pae Gate hundreds of people gathered dressed in cosplay attire, wearing masks and holding signs expressing their individual wishes for sovereignty. The members of this flash mob demonstrated for freedom in unique fashion; Local police were closeby.
While organisers and attendees shared songs, poetry, performance art and spoken word in a rather peaceful manner, local police kept a close eye behind the growing crowd. By 6pm a few hundred people had concentrated around the landmark. Police trucks and police motorbikes sprinkled the skirts of the flash mob.
What is a flash mob, exactly? A flash mob is a group of people that amass in a specified location for a brief time, perform, then disperse. These gatherings can have a message attached to their activity, or, they can be in the name of jest. These forms of protests are meant to be abrupt.
This event was organised by a Thai group known as the “Wilar Party” or the “Cat Party”. According to the elusive group’s Facebook page the Wilar Party unites to “Stand by the (college) students, create welfare standards and protect human rights”. This specific event hosted by Wilar Party was titled “#cosplaymob”.
The group’s ‘#cosplaymob’ Facebook event post reads: “Best dress. Like our team. We have prizes for you. The best sign. Like our team. We have prizes for you. Let’s get it to the fullest. Tell your story. Let’s do it to the fullest. This land belongs to us!!!”
Many Wilar Party organisers and attendees come from Chiang Mai as well as other northern Thailand cities such as Lampang, Lamphun and Nan. The majority of colourful event attendants were college students studying at the Faculty of Humanities at Chiang Mai University, Thailand. However, many other locals and foreigners alike could be seen watching the activities.
When one Thai student attendee dressed in a graffiti laden white sheet was asked why she was participating in the flash mob, she commented, “To support students and for human rights. Everyone has something to say!”
The messages of the demonstrators ranged dramatically from politics, freedom of speech, sex-worker rights, equality and more. The spectrum of desired change bonded the group. The atmosphere remained calm and lively throughout even while the protests were peppered by periodic police megaphone orders to disband.
By around 7pm, rain had begun and the large crowd slowly began fading. The juxtaposition of the spirited youth walking in the rainy darkness underneath the silhouettes of the ancient city gates was a sight to see: A sight Chiang Mai will surely witness again sometime very soon.
For more information about future events Wilar Party can be contacted via Facebook: พรรควิฬาร์ WilarParty