Myanmar Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu
Myanmar Buddhist monk Ashin WirathuGetty Images

Myanmar's government has opened an investigation into ultra-nationalist Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu who called the UN's special rapporteur for human rights in Burma a "whore" during a public address in Yangon.

Yanghee Lee, who was in Myanmar to advocate in defence of stateless and persecuted minority the Rohingya Muslims, was called a "bitch" for expressing human rights concerns over the Race Protection Laws.

The legislation, proposed by Buddhist nationalist groups, includes new regulations on religious conversion, interfaith marriage, population control and monogamy, with critics complaining that it will foster sectarianism and limit women's freedom in the divided country.

"Don't assume you are a respectable person, just because you have a position in the UN," the monk said. "In our country, you are just a whore."

He added that Lee should have sex with the Rohingya if she liked them so much.

Information minister Ye Htut said on his Facebook page that he had asked the ministry of religious affairs to investigate the monk's comments. He added that he believed religious leaders should talk about love, compassion, empathy and good ethics, according to the BBC.

Wirathu, who was jailed in 2003 for inciting anti-Muslim prejudice, got back into the spotlight after his release in 2012 by sending anti-Muslim sermons around the world through social media. As leader of the controversial 969 nationalist movement the monk urged Buddhists to boycott Muslim businesses.

Violence against Myanmar's Muslims has intensified over the past two years, incited by extremist monks. Much of the sectarian violence has taken place in the western Rakhine state, where clashes between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in 2012 left about 200 people dead and tens of thousands displaced.

The UN envoy said many people were still living in "abysmal conditions" in makeshift camps in Rakhine state and that "collective punishment" of all Muslims in the state was "not the answer.