More than 20 local residents and civic group members cleared piles of fallen leaves and picked up trash around the remains of a historic brick house in Taipei’s Huaguang Community (華光社區) yesterday, as they urged the government to designate the building a cultural site and prevent it from being torn down.
The Ministry of Justice began demolishing buildings in the area, a former government dormitory community, in February and protesters and residents have clashed with police numerous times during the operations.
The old brick house — a bath house at the Taipei Prison during the Japanese colonial era — is facing demolition.
“Many places offer a special feeling of some historic period, but they are becoming increasingly difficult to find in Taipei now,” said Ho Chan-han (何承翰), initiator of the clean-up operation, adding that the old bath house has special historic and cultural value, and he hopes more people would appreciate the site after it was cleaned.
Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) of the Green Party Taiwan, said many trees and houses have been damaged by the demolition work, and the city government should cease demolition operations until it has completed a survey of the historic sites in the area.
A thorough survey should be conducted to prevent rare cultural heritage sites from being accidentally ruined, he said.
Such a survey could not simply be done by “intuition,” determining that trees and houses are “not old enough” to be protected, just by looking at their appearances, he added.
The Ministry of Justice put up a sign at the building yesterday that warned civilians not to enter the vicinity or place objects in the area without permission.