Friday, April 16, 2010

Red shirts leave their mark on monument

Bangkok Post

Govt assesses damage after massive protest

The Fine Arts Department is assessing damage to the Democracy Monument and surrounding areas after red shirt protesters decided to leave the area on Wednesday and consolidate their protest at Ratchaprasong intersection.

A man walks past Democracy Monument which is now covered in graffiti from red shirt protesters. The Fine Arts Department and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration are assessing the damage caused to the monument by the month-long protest and Saturday’s bloody clash. APICHART JINAKUL

Department deputy director-general Khemmachart Theppachai said yesterday the clashes between soldiers and anti-government protesters on Ratchadamnoen Avenue last Saturday had damaged the monument, which is close to the red shirt's main rally stage at Phan Fa Bridge.

The department will work with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to check the condition of the monument and evaluate the damage. The red shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship set up its main protest base at Phan Fa Bridge on March 12, but has since decided to consolidate its forces at the Ratchaprasong intersection in the city's main shopping district.

''Media reports say there are bullet holes left at the monument as a result of the clashes,'' Mr Khemmachart said.

''If any damage is found, we should perform repairs. Some red shirts have also written graffiti on the monument's base.''

Staff from the Archaeology Office and the BMA will check the monument on Monday after the Songkran holiday has ended and all red shirt protesters have moved to Ratchaprasong inter section. Phan Fa Bridge, Makkhawan Rangsan Bridge, Chamai Maruchet Bridge and Mahakan Fort will also be examined.

Officials inspected Makkhawan Rangsan Bridge and Government House in 2008 for damage after protesters from the rival People's Alliance for Democracy occupied the area.

PAD protesters were later charged with causing more than 18 million baht of damage to Government House during their occupation of the compound.

''These historic sites are damaged by accident,'' Mr Khemmachart said.

''Occupants must be more careful because those buildings and structures represent the country's heritage.''

No historic sites are located around the Ratchaprasong intersection.

However, the red shirts should be aware of nearby holy places, such as the Erawan and Trimurti shrines, which should be respected, he said.

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