Demand U.S. Customs Compensate Musician for Destroying His Rare Instruments

On December 22, 2013, internationally renowned flute virtuoso Boujemaa Razgui returned to the U.S. from a trip abroad performing in Madrid. Mr. Razgui uses special handmade bamboo flutes in his performances which he carries with him when he travels. At the end of this trip, his luggage was delayed in New York and he had to fly on to Boston without it. Because he wasn't there to accompany the luggage through U.S. Customs inspection, officials reportedly removed and destroyed 13 irreplaceable instruments, along with hard to find bamboo canes Mr. Razgui had brought back with him to craft more instruments.

U.S. Customs says it destroyed no instruments. They say they seized and destroyed only green, raw bamboo because it was an "agricultural product" that can't be carried into the U.S. from abroad. Mr. Razgui, on the other hand, says his instruments -- tools he needs to make his living -- are gone. He also says the bamboo canes he packed with them were dried and legally importable. He has brought similar bamboo into the country previously with no problem.

Mr. Razgui now is scrambling to make a living because his irreplaceable instruments were either lost or destroyed by U.S. Customs officials. He deserves compensation for this injustice.

Please sign this petition asking Acting Director of U.S. Customs & Border Patrol Thomas Winkowski to compensate Mr. Razgui for the loss of his instruments and bamboo canes.

Dear Assistant Director Winkowski:

Those who have signed this petition, like many other members of the public, were distressed and saddened to learn that rare handmade flutes belonging to renowned international flautist Boujemaa Razgui were either lost or improperly destroyed by U.S. Customs officials on December 22, 2013.

While we applaud the fact that U.S. Customs takes its responsibility to protect the American public seriously, something went quite awry in this instance. We don't understand why Mr. Razgui's instruments were destroyed (or lost), or why the bamboo canes he asserts were dried and legally importable were instead deemed "raw, green bamboo" and destroyed.

Please consider compensating Mr. Razgui for the inconvenience he now suffers because of this mishap. He is scrambling to make a living and now must make new instruments in order to do so. This will require him to make a separate and costly additional trip to the Middle East to obtain new pieces of bamboo to replace what U.S. Customs seized and destroyed. Some form of compensation for what has happened appears more than appropriate.

We thank you for giving this matter the attention it deserves.

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