The Government Pension Fund Global was set up in 1996 to save petroleum revenues for future generations. The fund amounts to $1.3 trillion and owns about 1.5% of all globally listed shares.
Norway’s Bank Investment Management (NBIM), which manages the fund, held a 1.29% stake in Kirin Holdings at the end of 2020 with a value of $277.1 million. This means that the country of Norway is funding alcohol industry giant Kirin and profiting from Kirin’s harmful products and practices.
As Movendi International reported, following the recent military coup in Myanmar, beer giant Kirin announced it will terminate their two joint ventures in the country. Kirin currently holds majority stakes in Myanmar Brewery (51%) and Mandalay Brewery (51%), which are co-owned by Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Company Limited (MEHL). MEHL is a military owned conglomerate and serves as a welfare fund for the military.
Kirin released the statement on February 5, 2021, that they will terminate their partnership with MEHL. However, Kirin does not plan to withdraw investment completely from Myanmar. Myanmar sales account for about 5% of the Beer Giant’s global sales. Kirin also did not terminate its partnership with the military regime as they were conducting ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya people.
The Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global is considering whether to continue ownership of Kirin shares. As a part of the decision making process the fund will closely monitor the implementation of the company’s plan to end their partnership with MEHL.
Kirin’s ties to Myanmar military and genocide
Kirin invested in MEHL when the Japanese government encouraged investment in Myanmar to tighten their grip in the region. The investments began in 2015 when Myanmar elected a democratic government from their first free and fair election after nearly half a century.
Later, an Amnesty International investigation revealed the links between MEHL and Myanmar military units charged with egregious human rights abuses. Through its joint ventures, Kirin was legitimizing and funding the Myanmar military as it faced charges of genocide at the International Court of Justice.
Kirin’s subsidiary in Myanmar 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. United Nations investigators concluded that this operation included mass killings and gang rapes and was executed with “genocidal intent”.
Movendi International, Amnesty International, other civil society groups, activists and the global community campaigned against Big Alcohol doing business with the Myanmar military which was committing genocide against the Rohingya people.