Subject: Age: Timor Fights A New Kind Of Indonesian Invasion

The Age October 4, 2002

Timor Fights A New Kind Of Indonesian Invasion

Jill Jolliffe

Dili -- East Timorese authorities are fighting an invasion by Indonesian prostitutes, who have swarmed into Dili since independence on May 20.

"We have deported 19 of them over visa infractions", Immigration Department officer Maria do Ceu Conceicao said, "but we don't have adequate means to fight it - we have only seven officers, and not enough cars or radios".

She said some of the women were arriving alone, entering as tourists, but others were being brought in by third parties who could be involved in organised crime. There are also generalised fears that they might be modern-day Mata Haris, masking an Indonesian intelligence operation.

The influx began around June, and even Dili's venerated Hotel Turismo was not immune. The Turismo has had many past identities - as a showcase for fine Portuguese cuisine, a hive of revolutionary activity, a bastion of the Indonesian secret police and, in 1999, an armoured bunker for InterFET peacekeeping forces. It has never, however, been known as a brothel.

Then the women from Atambua, Indonesian Timor, set up business. Several booked rooms without revealing their intentions, and the next day there were queues at each of their doors. By night there were fights, non-stop music and the constant coming and going of local taxi drivers who were taking their cut.

Controlled by two straight-backed Indonesian gentlemen in dark glasses, the prostitutes provided an unexpected disruption to the lives of the Turismo's respectable guests.

Only after assiduous efforts did manager Manuel Ferreira Borges dislodge the unwelcome tenants and assure his regulars that standards had been restored.


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