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19 Jan 2020

David Pred

New owner of New Belgium Brewing, Kirin's subsidiary Little Lion World Beverages criticised over partnership with Myanmar's military

"Australian craft beer brewer faces criticism over partnership with Myanmar military", 28 Dec 2019

Australian craft beer brewer Lion Little World has faced international criticism over a business partnership with the Myanmar military, which is accused of genocide in its persecution of the Rohingya ethnic and religious minority.

Australia-based Lion Little World Beverages is a wholly owned subsidiary of Japanese beverage giant Kirin, which owns a little over half of both Myanmar Brewery and Mandalay Brewery in partnership with Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd (MEHL), a conglomerate of the Myanmar military.

The business partnership with Kirin provides not only much-needed foreign currency for the isolated Myanmar military...but also, crucially, is a source of international legitimacy...

A Kirin spokeswoman said it took the allegations of human rights abuses "very seriously".

"At Kirin, respect for human rights is fundamental to all of our business activities," she said.

"Consistent with Kirin's ongoing monitoring of the situation, we will now conduct a further examination of our operations and relationships in Myanmar..."

This month, the employee shareholders of New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado, approved its acquisition by Lion Little World.

In a letter announcing the deal, the New Belgium chief executive, Kim Jordan, said the company had a "crazy enthusiasm for being a business role model"...

But others...have condemned the deal.

"The sale of New Belgium to the conglomerate of Lion Little World Beverages and Kirin is shameful," the Fort Collins Community Action Network wrote in an open letter...

"The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights described the attack on the Rohingya as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing..."

"These crimes are enabled by the Burmese military's business interests, including their US$960m partnership with Kirin. As a subsidiary of Kirin, New Belgium would become part of a key financial network empowering the Burmese army to continue committing genocide and crimes against humanity," the statement from the Karen Organisation of America, the Karen Community of North Carolina (where New Belgium also has operations), and Inclusive Development International, said...