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Ai Pelo

Aipelo prison built in 1889 (with some later additions) by the Portuguese to incarcerate Timorese who rebelled against forced labour or who did not pay their taxes.

Ai Pelo Prison
The first phase of construction, that of the main building and probably also the adjacent barracks, was in 1889 by Governor Francisco Antonio da Costa (1888-89). The building was in heavy neoclassical style. The central building functioned as a customs house and administrative office as well as a prison.
In the late 19th century Timor experienced a serious economic and political crisis. Since the time of Governor Alfredo Maia de Lacerda (1884-1887) there were constant wars between chiefs and between them and the colonial administration. Moreover, smuggling of local goods for sale in Kupang in Dutch Timor aggravated the economin crisis by reducing income for the Portuguese administration.
The colonial government therefore ordered the construction of customs posts in Ai Pelo, Liquica, Maubara, Batugade and Oecusseto the west of Dili and in Manatuto, Baucau and Laga to the east. Most of the structures are still standing.

The second construction phase began in under a regulation of 15 May 1914 for housing of new prisoners from Macau where the prisons were overcrowded. Many prisoners were sent, but most arrived in poor health suffering from leprosy, Tb and other diseases.
Ai Pelo inmates were mostly civilians who did not submit to forced labour or pay their taxes. In addition political prisoners ("dangerous" anarcho-trade unionists and communists) were deported there from Portugal under the government of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar.