With Its Acquisition, New Belgium Joins the Growing Boycott of Kirin Brands

Press Release: December 18, 2019

With Its Acquisition, New Belgium Joins the Growing Boycott of Kirin Brands

International Campaign for the Rohingya deplores the decision yesterday by New Belgium shareholders to approve the company’s acquisition by Japanese mega-brewer Kirin.

“With this decision, New Belgium and its flagship beer, Fat Tire, will join the growing boycott of Kirin and its brands,” stated Simon Billenness, Executive Director of the International Campaign for the Rohingya and Campaign Director of No Business With Genocide.

“International Campaign for the Rohingya is calling on restaurants and bars to join this boycott of all Kirin products,” stated Simon Billenness. “We urge people to use their consumer power to send a message to New Belgium and other Kirin companies: by doing business with Burma’s genocidal generals, corporations are putting at risk their brands, their shareholders, and their customer loyalty. There can be no “business as usual” with genocide.”

Kirin has a significant interest in New York craft brewer, Brooklyn Brewery, and has recently acquired Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing, one of the largest craft beer companies in the US whose flagship beer, Fat Tire, is sold in stores and restaurants across the United States. Kirin is also known for its Kirin Ichiban brand beer, Four Roses Distillery in Kentucky, San Miguel Brewery of the Philippines, and the Coca-Cola Company of Northern New England, and a significant interest in American craft brewer, Brooklyn Brewery. This makes Kirin and its products highly vulnerable to consumer pressure and brand boycotts.

Through Kirin’s joint venture with Burmese military-owned Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL), Kirin is legitimizing the military and providing them with profits as they face accusations of genocide at the International Court of Justice, the United Nations’ top court.

Moreover, Amnesty International has revealed that Kirin’s subsidiary in Myanmar (Burma) 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 recently 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.”

The Kirin Holding’s investment with Burma’s military is part of Japan’s plans to invest in Myanmar while downplaying the Burmese army’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.

For more information contact:

Simon Billenness
Executive Director, International Campaign for the Rohingya
Campaign Director, No Business With Genocide
Mobile (US): 617-596-6158
Skype: simonbillenness
Twitter: @Rohingya_ICR
[email protected]

For More Information:

“Dirty List: Kirin Holdings,” Burma Campaign UK

Kirin Holdings: Group Companies List

The economic interests of the Myanmar military,” United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission, September 2019

Japan: Investigate brewer Kirin over payment to Myanmar military amid ethnic cleansing of Rohingya,” Amnesty International, 14 June 2018

Kirin restructures donation policy after Amnesty report,” Myanmar Times, 11 January 2019

Japan continues to help Myanmar whitewash the Rohingya crisis,” Teppei Kasai, Japan Times, 25 August 2019

Resetting Myanmar Policy,” Global Witness, September 2019