During the genocide of Rwanda in 1994, Dutch brewer Heineken kept on bottling the local Primus beer.
· Beer for the militants, that was used to incite them and make them more aggressive during the massacres. Witnesses say that militants killed under the influence of alcohol: Primus or locally brewed banana beer.
· Paying taxes to the Rwandan government during times of genocide and working with that government (e.g. to protect the breweries). As the main tax-payer in the country those days, Heineken probably financed part of the Rwandan genocide.
To be able to do this, Heineken’s Rwandan headquarters were temporarily moved to the neighbouring Goma (DRC) and had daily meetings with the operations team in Gisenyi (Rwanda). What’s more, the brewery in Gisenyi was still provided with beer’s main ingredients like clean water and yeast.
Could Heineken have taken its responsibility?
Heineken could have tried to stop its breweries from brewing beer. If it did, it would have been a setback for the militants.
According to criminal lawyer Michiel Pestman, it is not likely that we see Heineken’s responsible managers in court one day, but it is possible, he says. But only if there is proof that Heineken knew it contributed for a great part to the genocide. Or if there is proof that Heineken’s tax money substantially financed the militants. “It worthwhile a research.”
Read the entire story (in Dutch), written by Olivier van Beemen
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