TOKYO, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Japanese beverage group Kirin Holdings Co said it was halting payments from its beer ventures in Myanmar to local partner Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Company (MEHL), an entity linked to the country’s military.
The United Nations has identified the owners of MEHL as members of the Myanmar military, which has been accused by the world body of genocide and other war crimes against the Rohingya Muslim minority.
Myanmar denies genocide, saying its military was carrying out legitimate operations against Rohingya insurgents who attacked police posts.
Amnesty International has called on Kirin and other companies to cut ties with the company.
“This is a suspension, not a postponement,” a Kirin spokesman said on Wednesday.
In a statement, the company said the decision was taken “in view of a significant lack of visibility regarding the future business environment for our Myanmar joint ventures.”
It made no mention of the accusations against Myanmar’s army.
Calls to MEHL seeking comment were not answered on Wednesday.
Kirin in June said that it had hired Deloitte Tohmatsu Financial Advisory to investigate its Myanmar operations, where it owns 51% of the joint venture running Myanmar Brewery Limited and Mandalay Brewery Limited.
The company said its latest decision was also affected by the spread of COVID-19 in Myanmar.
The spokesman would not say whether the decision meant the company may pull out of Myanmar, a move it previously has denied it was considering. (Reporting by Ritsuko Ando, editing by Louise Heavens)
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