Six months of struggle for Swiss anti-vivisection umbrella culminate in silent march
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 2005:
ST. GALLEN, Switzerland–Striving to regain stability after
operating under three presidents and undergoing a complete board
turnover since July 2005, the Swiss antivivisection society
Aktionsgemeinschaft Schweizer Tierversuchsgegner on December 17,
2005 led the silent march against animal experiments in St. Gallen
that has traditionally been the focal AGSTG activity.
The march was to be followed by the AGSTG annual membership meeting.
Formed as an intended collective voice for Swiss
antivivisection organizations, the AGSTG throughout the latter part
of 2005 posted the march and meeting schedule and otherwise asked web
site visitors to come back later.
The 2005 turmoil developed out of a financial crisis worsening for at
least five years. After experiencing investment portfolio losses of
1.5 million francs in 2001, and 1.75 million francs in 2002, the
AGSTG lost 1.74 million francs in just the first quarter of 2003,
according to financial statements obtained by ANIMAL PEOPLE.
In March 2003 the AGSTG hired a new chief executive,
Thorsten Tonjes, 34, on a half-time salary. Tonjes succeeded Peter
Beck, who is also president of Animal Life Germany and remained as
AGSTG vice president. Working from a home office, Tonjes more than
doubled AGSTG spending. This apparently stimulated AGSTG income,
but huge deficits continued.
After Tonjes came under investigation in mid-2005 for alleged
self-dealing, mismanagement, tax evasion, and neglect of animals
in his care, according to the magazine Beobachter, the AGSTG laid
off all paid staff, but paid Tonjes’ fines for animal neglect.
The previous three-member board resigned and was replaced by
a four-member board, at least three of them closely associated with
Beck at other organizations.
Prominent Swiss activist Edith Zellweger, 51, succeeded
Tonjes as chief executive, but reportedly quit within a month. The
AGSTG president is now Dora Hardegger, who is also president of
Animal Life Switzerland.
Former AGSTG employee Petra Eissinger told ANIMAL PEOPLE in
October 2005 that she had sued for two months’ unpaid wages. Her
case remains unresolved. Zellweger argued unsuccessfully during her
brief tenure that Eissinger should be paid.