Turkey’s citizens may have beaten back an attempted coup by the military – a fact that can only be described as a historic victory in the nation’s context – but it must show humility in the face of grand events. Turkish President Recep Erdogan proudly declared the victory of democracy over dictatorship following the failed attempt – but his actions cast doubt on that characterisation.

The situation on the ground resembles the common aftermath of coups; mass purges, mass arrests, exemplary punishments and fierce jingoism. It makes sense to arrest the plotters of the coup and their supporters, but Erdogan’s ‘purges’ seemed to be aimed at a much different target.

As of Wednesday, 3,000 members of the judiciary, 15,200 education ministry officials, 21,000 private school teachers, 1,577 university faculty heads have been removed from their jobs, while a similarly wide-ranging purge is being carried out in other government departments. What connection does a private school teacher have to the small band of rebels that attacked Ankara? The extent and promptness with which these arrests were made also suggest an ulterior motive – perhaps the objective is not to arrest Erdogan’s opponents who planned the coup, but to target all opponents of the president across the country; political, academic or otherwise.

The common Turkish citizen – who has lived through military coups before – will be quick to recognise that these are the actions of an autocrat, not a democrat. The public humiliation of soldiers, the revocation of media licenses, and the indiscriminate arrests have gone too far – and nations around the world are beginning to notice.

Erdogan must reign in his ruthless reprisal, and bring the county back to its democratic roots. His dictatorial actions are only latently proving to the citizens of Turkey that perhaps the coup plotters had a point.