Mr. Speaker, for 21 days, beginning on June 17, 1940, Portugal's consul general in the French city of Bordeaux issued visas to over 30,000 refugees fleeing the Nazis, in defiance of his own government's orders and at great personal sacrifice. His courage and commitment to conscience saved those who would have otherwise perished and gave life to their descendants who today live in all corners of the world.
When asked about his decision, he would answer, “I would rather stand with God against man than stand with man against God”. In Israel, Aristides de Sousa Mendes is known by the revered title, “Righteous Gentile”.
The same courage and commitment was shown by the Brazilian diplomat Luiz Martins de Sousa Dantas.
I encourage all parliamentarians to recognize this devotion to conscience by supporting my motion to designate June 17 each year a day of conscience, consistent with the international efforts of Joao Crisostomo.