In June 2018, Movendi International reported that the global beer giant Kirin was paying the Myanmar military even amidst the ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya.
Amnesty International had called for an urgent investigation by Japanese authorities into payments that a subsidiary of the multinational brewing giant Kirin made to Myanmar’s army and authorities at the height of an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya population in the fall of 2017.
Kirin Brewery Company is one of the largest beer producers in the world. The company holds a majority stake in Myanmar Brewery Limited as well as Asia Pacific Breweries and owns Kirin Europe, Kirin Brewery of America, Philippine-based San Miguel Brewery and other subsidiaries.
The beer giant’s support a Military regime and its grave human rights abuses
In Myanmar, Kirin is in joint ventures, Myanmar Breweries and Mandalay Brewery, with the Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL), a Burmese military-owned conglomerate. In its report “Military Ltd,” Amnesty International exposes the links between MEHL and Myanmar military units charged with egregious human rights abuses. Through its joint ventures, Kirin is legitimizing and funding the Myanmar military as it faces charges of genocide at the International Court of Justice.
Moreover, Amnesty International has revealed that Kirin’s subsidiary in Myanmar actually made three donations to the Burmese military during the army’s offensive in 2017 that forced over 700,000 Rohingya civilians to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. The head of the Burmese military who directed the atrocities against the Rohingya was filmed receiving one of these donations from Kirin’s affiliate and explicitly noted that it was for the security forces.
The United Nations-mandated International Independent Fact-Finding Mission urged the international community to:
sever ties with Myanmar’s military and the vast web of companies it controls and relies on [as] any foreign business activity involving the Tatmadaw (military) and its conglomerates MEHL and MEC poses a high risk of contributing to, or being linked to, violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. At a minimum, these foreign companies are contributing to supporting the Tatmadaw’s financial capacity.”United Nations-mandated International Independent Fact-Finding Mission
Kirin is a Japanese alcohol industry ginat with ownership of many other beer, liquor, and beverage brands worldwide. Through its Lion Beverages subsidiary, Kirin has been expanding by way of acquisitions of craft breweries in North America, Europe, and Australasia.
In addition to its flagship brand, Kirin Ichiban beer, Kirin’s brands include:
- the Coca-Cola Company of Northern New England,
- Four Roses Distillery in Kentucky,
- San Miguel Brewery of the Philippines,
- Brooklyn Brewery, and
- Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing.
In Europe and Australasia, Kirin’s owns brands including:
- Fourpure Brewing (UK),
- Magic Rock Brewing (UK),
- Tooheys (Australia),
- Speight’s (Australia),
- Panhead Custom Ales (New Zealand), and
- Emerson’s Brewery (New Zealand).
Politically, Kirin is represented by the Big Alcohol front “International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD)” where also other alcohol giants with horrific human rights records are involved.
The Kirin Holding’s investment with Myanmar’s military is part of Japan’s plans to invest in Myanmar while downplaying the regime’s egregious attacks on civilians. The Japanese External Trade Organization (JETRO) has organized several investment seminars about business opportunities for Japanese companies, including one focused on investments in Rakhine State.
Genocide and Big Alcohol
Kirin is not the only alcohol industry giant doing business with genocidal generals. The investigative journalist Olivier van Beemen showed in a compelling book how Heineken, the second largest beer producer in the world, played an important and active part in the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.
The petition initiated by the International Campaign for the Rohingya
The petition is sponsored by the International Campaign for the Rohingya, based in Washington D.C. in the United States, and supported by World Beyond War and No Business With Genocide. The can be signed here.
It’s time to send a message to Kirin Holdings that will reverberate to other Japanese companies and indeed corporations worldwide: by doing business with Burma’s genocidal generals, corporations are risking their brands, their shareholders, and their customers. There can be no “business as usual” with genocide.”Justice For Myanmar in the petition’s call