Suharto, now 86, came to power after he crushed a coup in 1965. He ruled Indonesia for 32 years, with his army killing student activists or sending them to jail or labour camps.
"Putting him (Suharto) on trial is about investing in this country's future, more than just doing justice, and has nothing to do with revenge," said Budiman Sudjatmiko.
Former student activist Nezar Patria, now a journalist, said he was kidnapped by an anti-terror unit in 1988 and was tortured for three days and then jailed for three months.
Months after his release, Nezar would break out in a sweat just hearing a walky-talky like he ones he heard during his kidnapping.
As for Suharto, "he may be honoured, but he is also a coward who doesn't want to admit his wrongdoing," Nezar said.