IT’S SATURDAY morning and I am getting ready to attend the Annual Ironfest in Lithgow. This year is different from other Ironfests I have been to. And it is different from any events here in Australia I have been to. It is different because I am not sure I will be returning home.
The old feeling of uncertainty that I left behind when I escaped the communist regime in the Czechoslovak Socialistic Republic has returned. I could have been labeled as a counter-revolutionary element and declared a danger to society at any time. They could and did lock up any person who dared to be different. My hunger for freedom was stronger than anything else and I risked everything to escape to Australia.
But the heavy feeling in my chest is back after so many years because Australia is now putting people behind bars because they dare to be different.
I don’t rob, I don’t sell drugs, I don’t rape, I don’t kill, but I might end up being branded a criminal because I am going to associate with a 1% motorcycle club at Ironfest.
Planning for Ironfest wasn’t as smooth as in previous years as Lithgow Council wasn’t keen to let Life and Death MC organise the bike show despite it being an enormous success in the past and being the main crowd drawer. The anti-bikie laws are making everyone nervous.
Remember Tiananmen Square in 1989? The only crime of the assembled students was that they were assembled. The People’s Republic of China doesn’t recognise the right of freedom of assembly or association. Guess what? Neither does Australia if you are a biker. The only difference is that our square is called Taylor Square.
That’s why I am leaving my home today not knowing I will be back tomorrow. I am going to ride with people who could be declared criminals just because they choose to belong to a group.
At Kurrajong Hotel I will meet Life and Death MC and we will ride to Lithgow together. There is a possibility we might not reach our destination as the boys in blue could intercept us at any time.
It is time for fight back or perish. The atrocities against the Jews and Gypsies were allowed in Nazi Germany because of the ignorance of the rest of population. The atrocities against democratic elements in the Soviet Block were allowed because of the fear of the general population not to be associated with people labeled as criminals. Are we going to allow the same to happen here?
The people of Lithgow voted with their feet. The attendance was in record numbers despite the fears of the Lithgow Council. The number of displayed bikes was also a record. There weren’t any members of the blue squad on site and the event run smoothly and without any incidence.
I could write more about this year’s Ironfest. I could write about how everyone who attended had a ball. But I chose to write about it from a different angle. You will see some of the winning bikes featured on the pages of our magazine later so keep your eyes open.
When I came home I was happy that common sense had prevailed and I could sleep again in my bed. Ironfest had not become Ironfist.
words & photos by George