Xhemajlie Demaci, wife of human rights defender Adem Demaci, walks by his coffin in parliament's hall, in Pristina, July 27, 2018.
Xhemajlie Demaci, wife of human rights defender Adem Demaci, walks by his coffin in parliament's hall, in Pristina, July 27, 2018.

Kosovo's president Hashim Thaci has ordered three days of official mourning for Adem Demaci, the human rights fighter known for his strong resistance to Serbian rule.

Demaci died Thursday of what was called natural causes. He was 82. Parliament halted its debates and held a moment of silence when his death was announced.

Demaci's willingness to sacrifice himself for Kosovo's ethnic Albanians earned him the title "Kosovo's Mandela," after legendary South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela.

Demaci spent 28 years in prison for resisting communist rule under the former Yugoslavia, then Serbian dominance over Kosovo and its ethnic Albanian majority when Yugoslavia broke apart.

He was the political head of the Kosovo Liberation Army, which fought a guerrilla war against Serb forces in 1998 and 1999.

Demaci won the European Parliament's Andrei Sahkarov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 1991.

"It is difficult to accept that our symbol of resistance has passed away. He was always unbreakable and unbending in the face of every challenge," Thaci wrote on Facebook.