Australia’s most iconic beers owned and distributed by the parent company of Lion, Kirin, have already cut ties with the Myanmar military. This was after the staged coup that occurred earlier this week.
The said company, Lion, is a wholly own subsidiary of Kirin Holdings, a Japanese company that has a joint-venture partnership with Myanma Economic Holdings Public Company Limited (MEHL), which is linked to Myanmar’s military.
Lion is famous for its thread of brands including Tooheys, XXXX, Little Creatures, Iron Jack, Hanh, James Squire, James Boag’s and Byron Bay on its website.
Just recently, the Amnesty International and human rights groups had long called for Kirin to cut ties with the military of Myanmar. This was on grounds of being accused with genocide and other war crimes against the Rohingya Muslim minority.
In line with the matter, on a released statement, Kirin Holdings said it was “deeply concerned by the recent actions of the military in Myanmar, which are against our standards and human rights policy”.
It reads, “Given the current circumstances, we have no option but to terminate our current joint-venture partnership with Myanma Economic Holdings Public Company Limited, which provides the service of welfare fund management for the military. We will be taking steps as a matter of urgency to put this termination into effect.”
Meanwhile, Australian businessman Sir Rod Eddington who sits on both Lion and Kirin’s board, made no further comments with the matter. Justice for Myanmar, which has exposed the global business links to Myanmar’s military, also known as the Tatmadaw, congratulated the move.
According to spokesperson Yadanar Maung “Kirin’s bold and timely move to cut ties sends a strong message to the Myanmar military that their illegitimate and brutal coup and continued genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity will not be tolerated. We appreciate that Kirin has finally listened to the voices of the Myanmar people and made the right decision by cutting ties. We now call on Kirin to encourage other companies to follow suit.”
It was made known last Monday that the Tatmadaw, under Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, seized power in a dawn coup, the day Parliament was meant to resume. Consequently, de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and members of her immensely popular National League for Democracy party were detained, and the military yesterday cut access to Facebook — synonymous with the internet in Myanmar.
Tim O’Connor, Amnesty International’s Australia campaigner said “We welcome that Kirin, who owns Australian and New Zealand brewing and beverage giant Lion, has finally bowed to pressure from activists and the public to divest from its MEHL joint venture with the Myanmar military. It’s only a shame it took a military coup d’etat for them to finally move on what was always a venture that delivered huge sums of money to [the] Myanmar military and their leaders who are accused of the gravest human rights violations.”
As of now, other foreign companies that has ties to the Tatmadaw are encouraged to follow should Kirin’s footsteps in an urgent and transparent manner.