US Karen Community and Inclusive Development International Publish Open Letter Urging New Belgium Brewing Employees to Stand for Human Rights and Vote No to Kirin

10 December 2019

On November 19, 2019, New Belgium Brewing announced their sale to Kirin’s fully-owned subsidiary, Lion Little World Beverages, subject to an employee vote. The Karen Organization of America, Karen Community of North Carolina and Asheville-based Inclusive Development International (IDI) are deeply concerned that if the sale is approved, New Belgium will be joining a company that includes a subsidiary that is jointly owned by a Burmese military conglomerate. We call on New Belgium employees to oppose Kirin’s continuing business partnership with the criminal Burmese military. To reach out, we have published a letter urging employee shareholders to support human rights and justice by voting no to Kirin’s takeover of New Belgium Brewing.

The Burmese state and its key actors have committed genocide against the Rohingya and crimes against humanity against other ethnic minorities. These crimes are enabled by the Burmese military’s business interests, including their USD$960 million 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.

Legal mechanisms to bring perpetrators of genocide to justice begin in the International Court of Justice on December 10. International accountability may include the investigation of financial supporters of the Burmese army, including Kirin. Kirin’s subsidiary with the Burmese army, Myanmar Brewery, is already subject to sanctions in Canada, which could carry business risks for Kirin and New Belgium Brewing.

By operating breweries in Burmese with the military, Kirin are propping up a genocidal regime and normalizing their conduct. We support calls for all businesses to divest from the Burmese military and for sanctions against military businesses, including Kirin’s Myanmar Brewery. In our letter to employees, we urge New Belgium employees to be a “force for good”, add their voice to support action for justice and human rights, and reject Kirin’s takeover of New Belgium Brewing.

For media inquiries, contact:

Eh Nay Thaw, Advocacy Director of Karen Organization of America: +1 502-472-1479

Inclusive Development International: [email protected]

Download statement here.

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