AI accuses Kirin of fund misuse in Myanmar

Amnesty International reported yesterday that the USD$30,000 donated to Myanmar’s authorities by a subsidiary of Kirin Holdings Company may be used to support ethnic cleansing of the country’s Rohingya population.  Amnesty International has urged the Japanese authorities to launch an investigation.

Kirin controls 80% of the beer industry in Myanmar, not least because has a controlling interest in two of the country’s largest breweries — Myanmar Brewery and Mandalay Brewery.  Minority interest is held by UMEHL, a corporation largely comprised of former military personnel, many of whom may certainly have been involved in the military coup to take control of the country from the government in the 1960s.

Kirin claims the donations were made as part of a humanitarian relief effort to help the victims, and yet the country’s military Commander-in Chief, to whom payments were apparently made by Myanmar Brewery during an inexplicable televised ceremony, has stated the payments would be used to fund “security personnel and state service personnel” operating in the area where the ethnic cleansing is alleged to be happening.

Most damning is the fact these donations were made after the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights had specifically referred to the ethnic cleansing atrocities happening in Myanmar.

Kirin claims its relationship with UMEHL explicitly forbids any funds from Myanmar’s beer industry to be used for unethical purposes.  Nevertheless, Kirin confirms the donations were made when UMEHL requested them for humanitarian reasons, although it is unable or unwilling to provide evidence of UMEHL’s compliance with the agreement that forbids the misuse of funds.  Kirin states its agreement with UMEHL is confidential.

Amnesty International claims Kirin has failed its corporate responsibility by not following the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, under which an organisation has an obligation to undertake a risk-based due diligence analysis to ensure it does not cause or contribute to national or international human rights abuses.

Kirin has consequently implemented a new global human rights policy, it will review the activities of Myanmar Brewery, and it has suspended all donations.